What are Affirmations?
Affirmations are statements that firmly declare a positive intention, stated as a truth, so as to make these thoughts a part of your reality. For example, someone who wants to improve their physical health may use affirmations like “I am healthy and well”, “I radiate good health” or “I love feeling fit and strong” or all of them. Generally, affirmations are used repetitively at certain times of the day. The idea behind using affirmations is to bring about a shift in our thoughts and beliefs. We humans have approximately 60000 thoughts in a single day and more often than not, we are unaware of our thoughts, they just stream through our minds constantly. What we think repeatedly and frequently slowly becomes our beliefs. And beliefs have the power to change reality. Thus, by influencing our thoughts, affirmations have the power to change our beliefs and reality.
How Does It Work?
In a study, individuals diagnosed with Anorexia Nervosa (an eating disorder characterized by an abnormally low body weight, an intense fear of gaining weight and a distorted perception of weight) were asked to walk through a doorway that became increasingly narrower. They found that these individuals started turning their body when the doorway was 40% wider than their shoulders while another set of individuals, without the diagnosis, turned only when the doorway was 25% wider than their shoulders. This pointed to the self-talk of the diagnosed individuals which made them believe that they were physically bigger than they actually were. In another study a group of patients who were due for a surgical procedure of the knee for osteoarthritis were divided into 2 groups. One went through the surgery while the other had a sham surgery i.e they had an incision made on their knee and the procedure was faked so that these patients believed that a surgery had been performed on them. The results were amazing because both the groups recovered equally. This is proof that the human mind has the power to make things happen if it believes in them.
Due to something called negativity bias (the tendency to focus on potential threats and difficulties) we humans tend to focus on negative aspects of our day to day life. When affirmations are used correctly, they can slowly replace the negative thoughts and help our mind to focus on not just what’s going well but seed the image of a reality that fits with our hopes and wishes.
Affirmation can slowly become a subconscious part of our thinking and belief system and the changes we wish to make in our lives will happen effortlessly. This sounds really simple and effective. Then why doesn’t it work as effectively for some?
Reasons why they sometimes fail and what to do about it
Here are 4 reasons why their efficacy may be low for some:
- Contradicting practice – Many people may repeat the affirmations verbally or in writing once a day but say things and behave in ways that contradict these affirmations. For example, someone who wants to get a great job may be using affirmations like “I see myself in my dream job” for 10 minutes in the morning but for the rest of the day may be saying things like “It is tough times and jobs are not easy to come by” or “With my qualifications I don’t know if I can get a job I want.” Pay attention to your day today thoughts and words and use them in ways that match with the affirmations.
- Not focusing emotionally – A very important factor for the affirmations to work is that one should focus on experiencing the feelings that come with the affirmative thought. We may be parroting the words without truly focusing and thus failing to generate the emotion. Positive emotion is the fuel that will push your desires to reality.
- Using future tense – The affirmations have to be in present tense. If you use an affirmation like “I will be healthy and fit” your subconscious mind will always see it as something that is supposed to happen in the future, a future that never arrives. Affirmations in present tense allow you to not only picturize the possibility but also help you in experiencing the feelings that would accompany the accomplishment.
- Framing affirmations negatively – Many of us find it easier to talk about what we don’t like or don’t want in our lives and this may lead to people using affirmations the same way. However, our mind thinks in images and finds it difficult to process negative words, so replace an affirmation like “I don’t feel angry all the time” with “I feel calm and at peace”.
Affirmations have the power to change your habitual thinking and alter your beliefs for the better. Come up with affirmations for 2-3 areas of your life where you want to see changes. As you continue to use these affirmations correctly and consistently, your mind will come up with ways to make them come true and attract the exact opportunities required to fulfill your dreams.